Chit chat during lessons

Edited: April 6, 2018, 7:15 PM · How much does your teacher chit chat with you during lessons about non-violin topics? Or if you are a teacher, how much do you chit chat with your students?

Replies (22)

April 6, 2018, 7:19 PM · Another way of putting it, how much of the lesson is not a lesson :)
April 6, 2018, 7:20 PM · As a student, I try not to! Since I feel like the lesson time should be used for what it's for.

However, a few words before or after the lesson happens on regular basis.

April 6, 2018, 7:48 PM · Just a little chit-chat. But I try not to say "like" too frequently.
April 6, 2018, 9:03 PM · I like chi-chatting with my teacher. As an amateur, I like to enjoy the process and “smell the roses”.
April 6, 2018, 10:20 PM · Sometimes I chit-chat with my teacher on non-music stuff, and often ask curiosity questions.
April 7, 2018, 12:10 AM · I chat with my teacher, who has become a dear friend over the years.
April 7, 2018, 1:30 AM · nowadays, because of life decisions I made, I have to scrimp and save and make sacrifices for lessons, so I like to make sure I get the most out of them, and that means little chit chat. Obviously, there's a little bit at the start and end when I'm setting up and putting away, but if I'm having an hours lesson and 15 mins are being spent in chatting, then there's a problem.
My tutor is also a friend, so I'm happy to have a cuppa after the lesson, or buy her a pint if we meet down the pub, but lessons are expensive and I don't have the spare money to waste.
It was different when I had a good income, but now I don't.
Edited: April 7, 2018, 5:16 AM · In my time chat was restricted to before the instrument (violin/cello) was taken out of its case and after it was put back in. Same applies to orchestral rehearsals today as far as I am concerned.
Edited: April 7, 2018, 10:07 AM · I find the best way of not wasting my violin lesson time is recoding and reviewing. My teacher gives me tons in each lesson. It's very easy for me to miss some details or nuances so reviewing lesson recording can avoid same issuea being told again and again, lesson after lesson.
April 7, 2018, 10:30 AM · A lesson is a meeting of minds, as well as notes.

The most talkative students are sometimes those that haven't practiced!

April 7, 2018, 12:28 PM · I think it’s a matter of finding the Goldilocks zone, which will be somewhat different depending on the personalities of the teacher and student, and the evolving life circumstances of both parties. Outside of each teacher-student sweet spot I would say that too little chitchat comes across as cold, impersonal, and robotic, and too much gives the impression of lack of efficiency. One may need to alter the normal amount in specific circumstances, such as if the student is experiencing motivational problems, and the teacher needs to investigate the source.
April 7, 2018, 2:06 PM · Every student is so different, the amount I chit chat with them varies greatly. I tend to find that I chit chat with students who are there for that reason (a social one), and I tend to chat less with students who are serious about learning music or have a lot of questions.

Also, chatting can be a way of improving the efficiency of a lesson. Many students (adults) come in with heavy emotional and mental burdens from the week, and it's obvious that we're not going to get anything done unless we tackle those first. Thus, many lessons become about clearing the mind of the student before we attempt to get into the technical details of playing.

April 7, 2018, 3:41 PM · Add to good insights given by Lieschen and Erik, I want to make two more points:

1) I'm big on efficiency and get your best value for money, but violin lessons are not widget-making process in that the efficiency can't be rigidly measured by how many notes/issues worked on per minute. It's an educational and mentoring experience often to be approached holistically. Just like going to see your doctor, the most efficient doctor is the one produces the best result, whether it takes 15 minutes or one hour. So as a student, it's best not to be overly calculative about how the time our teacher whom we trust wants to spend.

2) Emotion often is more important than technical issues when it comes to playing violin, especially for more advanced students. Violin teacher is not a therapist, but sizing up the emotional state of a student and work it through if necessary surely is an important part of violin teaching.

April 7, 2018, 3:47 PM · As a student, if I'm talking about something with my teacher (during lessons), it will almost certainly be violin-related. Comparisons of string brands are casual conversation topics for me.
April 7, 2018, 11:23 PM · I am one of those teachers who never seem to have enough lesson time so I try to teach as efficiently as I can. Having said that I do feel that I like to get to know my pupils personally aswell. Chatting about non-violin related things improves the teacher-pupil relationship and the more I know someone the more I know how to teach them. I have also noticed that some of my younger students (high school age) seem to need a grown up who is not their parent or school teacher to talk to. I even have the rule that what they tell me remains confidential. I am quite close to most of my pupils and that is one of the things I really love about teaching.
April 9, 2018, 9:02 AM · I let my teacher talk as much as he wants - his insights are valuable and always relevant to the content of the lesson.

It's both relevant, informative, and enjoyable.

It probably just depends on what's being chatted about. The history and connections are as important as the technique because it adds context to the material.

April 9, 2018, 9:43 AM · Mindless chit chat, no. Chat that builds rapport, yes. Since we are both classical music fans there is always the, what did you listen to this week. He knows I work in the stock market, so we do discuss that (this week I explained the difference between stop loss and stop loss with limit). He is less than half my age (younger then my youngest child), so at times there is some, umm, fatherly discussions, as well as him trying to explain his generation.

Since most lessons end with us laughing and smiling, we consider ourselves friends and my playing has progressed, I think we are doing a great job…

As I opened with, building rapport is a good investment.

April 10, 2018, 3:52 AM · Trevor Jennings
"In my time chat was restricted to before the instrument (violin/cello) was taken out of its case and after it was put back in. Same applies to orchestral rehearsals today as far as I am concerned."

+1
Those are also my teacher's rules. All the "what did you do?" "Where are you going this weekend?", happen before the violin is taken out, and after it is put back to the case.

May 7, 2018, 7:17 AM · My most revered violin teacher was Paul Stassevich and chit chatting was a part of the lesson. He told me many things which were not written down in books. Mostly were his experiences from real life in the concert world of the 1950s and 1960s. Also were anecdotes from his time at the Leopold Auer violin classes at St. Petersburg Conservatory. He was an accomplished pianist and he accompanied many of the other Auer students.

He was admired by Alexander Glazinov and was a favorite of Rimsky-Korsakov. As concertmaster of a Paris orchestra around 1925 he asked many questions of Richard Strauss about his tone poem Ein Heldenleben. Strauss answered him by saying "play it any which way you like but don't be boring". Such were the many comments which were part of my lessons with him.

Edited: May 7, 2018, 7:30 AM · This is a debatable subject?

I'm not your employee. You're my student. If I'm in the mood to chit chat I will chit chat.

If you don't like my chit chat you can find another teacher. There are plenty of students waiting in line for my teaching.

May 7, 2018, 7:36 AM · I chat on and off with my teacher throughout the lesson. Probably around 10 minutes total in my hour-long lesson. Keeps me from getting tense.
May 7, 2018, 8:22 AM · I think Yixi hit the nail on the head with this
"1) I'm big on efficiency and get your best value for money, but violin lessons are not widget-making process in that the efficiency can't be rigidly measured by how many notes/issues worked on per minute. It's an educational and mentoring experience often to be approached holistically. Just like going to see your doctor, the most efficient doctor is the one produces the best result, whether it takes 15 minutes or one hour. So as a student, it's best not to be overly calculative about how the time our teacher whom we trust wants to spend."
I've taught hour long lessons where the student spends most of the time playing and I give feedback, but where not really all that much was accomplished on an overall scale (mostly pointing out areas where the student has missed notes/dynamics or need to work on intonation, phrasing, etc.) and I've also taught lessons where I was able to pinpoint a technical issue that had been hindering a student and figure out a successful solution or clear up a misconception within 5-10 min. When the latter happens I sometimes joke with student that they can go home now, because they got their money's worth already (I don't actually send them home). Longer lessons are important in order to be able to cover all of the essential repertoire, scales, etudes, exercises, etc. that an advanced student needs, but it's really the little "aha" moments that contribute the most to a students overall development and those often happen during just a fraction of the overall lesson.
I'm not big on chit chat in general, but I do want to get to know my students, so i generally spend the first few minutes while the student is unpacking asking them about their week and the older ones often ask about my week, so we exchange highlights and then get to work. I do have a few students who seem to need more chatting time, so sometimes there are breaks in the flow of the lesson while they share something else with me.
I also think that what is sometimes seen as chit chat or wasted time is actually important info/dialogue. I treasure the stories my teachers have shared over the years about their experiences as students and pros and I often share little anecdotes about my own experiences with students during lessons as this is part of sharing our musical culture with them and giving them a glimpse of advanced student/ college/professional life as a musician.

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